AP Photo/Aaron Gash
Make it two for the Milwaukee Bucks, who claimed the season series over the Brooklyn Nets with a 124-118 win on Tuesday night at Fiserv Forum.
Giannis Antetokounmpo dropped 36 points for the Bucks, who are 41-24 and chasing the Nets for the second seed in the Eastern Conference. With the win, Milwaukee is now just 1.5 games behind Brooklyn.
For the 43-23 Nets, Kyrie Irving scored 38 points.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks: 36 PTS, 12 REB
- Jrue Holiday, Bucks: 23 PTS, 10 AST, 8 REB
- Kyrie Irving, Nets: 38 PTS, 5 AST, 3 REB
- Kevin Durant, Nets: 32 PTS, 9 REB, 6 AST
A Strong Showing From Giannis (and His Friends)
On Sunday, Milwaukee’s weakness was its secondary scoring, as only three players finished the night in double digits. If Tuesday was going to be anything like the earlier game, that would have spelled trouble, as Antetokounmpo earned his third personal foul early in the second quarter.
He and Jrue Holiday were leading the scoring in the opening 12 minutes, and it was Bryn Forbes who stepped up to keep the Bucks moving while he was off the court. With the game tied at 55, the Bucks broke out on an 11-3 run to end the half, headlined by three three-pointers from Forbes, who ended the second quarter with 11 points.
Antetokounmpo had a game-high 21 points—marking the third consecutive half that he has scored at least 20 points on the Nets.
He set another personal record early in the second half, hitting his fourth three to help the Bucks keep their halftime lead going.
He had little trouble cruising to 30 points before the start of the fourth but couldn’t hold off a Nets advance with little help behind him. It seemed like the Bucks had outrun their depth woes, but with the clock ticking, they came back to put them in a precarious scenario.
The Nets came into the fourth off a major run from Irving, but after going down, the Bucks went on an 18-1 run to take the lead back and push all the way to the finish.
Things looked as though they would start trending in the opposite direction as Irving made the most of his possessions in the third quarter, but Antetokounmpo continued to dominate. And unlike Sunday, Antetokounmpo had backup—Khris Middleton and Donte DiVincenzo worked their way into double-digit scoring by the end of the game, joining their star as well as Holiday and Forbes.
Kyrie’s Strong Showing Comes Too Late
The Nets’ stars were able to keep Brooklyn at pace with Milwaukee through most of the first half, but things got dicey later in the frame even when they had a chance to capitalize. When Antetokounmpo landed his third personal foul before there were even five minutes gone in the second frame, Brooklyn struggled to take advantage not just at the line, but all over the court.
The Nets hit just six of their 13 free-throw attempts in the half, missing five in a row at one point in the second quarter. Coupled with sloppy offense that resulted in seven turnovers—and eight Milwaukee points—the Nets took an eight-point deficit into the half.
Durant posted 17 points in the half and was the only member of the team who managed from the line, going 4-of-5 in addition to impressive 6-of-9 shooting from the field.
Jeff Green and DeAndre Jordan were both 1-of-4 on free throws.
Irving logged 14 points in 19 minutes as the team’s second-leading scorer, but he also had three fouls by the break.
Things didn’t get much better to start the third. But Irving woke up just in time to stop the Bucks from making their 10-point lead into something bigger, logging 16 in the frame to give Brooklyn the lead heading into the fourth.
Irving’s emergence helped the Nets get back in it, and a pair of free throws from their top player at the line with 1: 02 to go inched them closer, but it wasn’t enough to pull them past the Bucks after a messy first half.
Milwaukee will host the Washington Wizards on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.
The Nets will head to Dallas for a Thursday tip against the Mavericks at 7: 30 p.m. ET.